The Fame Game Review: It is scarcely unexpected that it takes the lead actress little effort to get into the skin of the protagonist. When she performs, the line between the role and the performer is usually blurred by her brilliant panache.
Who else but Madhuri Dixit could have played an everlasting movie star of the kind who is at the focus of The Fame Game is? Her presence at the head of the cast of the Netflix series not only generates recognized meta components within a fictional storyline but also ensures that the game, despite many a wobble along the road, never loses its charm.
It is scarcely unexpected that it takes the lead actress little effort to get into the skin of the heroine, renowned Bollywood luminary Anamika Anand. Often the boundary between character and actor is blurred by her sparkling panache, resulting in an enthralling show replete with both grandiose fantasies and glints of insight.
Bejoy Nambiar and Karishma Kohli directed and produced the eight-part series, which was developed by Sri Rao in New York City and written by him. Dharmic Entertainment produced the show, which is about an achiever who, despite his seeming success, is doomed to succumb to the passage of time.
Anamika Anand is neither Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard nor Fedora’s titular heroine, who is eternally young. On the surface, she appears to be content with her “perfect life,” which includes a husband, two children, a successful acting career, and a devoted fan base.
The Fame Game moves along nicely, for the most part, thanks in part to the writing and in large part to Madhuri Dixit’s performance, piecing together the story of a lady of substance who acknowledges much that undermines the apparent calm of her existence.
The Fame Game opens off with a blunder and then travels back half a year to follow the developments leading to a flashpoint that defines the series and repeatedly hops between past and present in the process.
After arriving home from a lavish awards ceremony accompanied by her husband Nikhil More (Sanjay Kapoor), Anamika Anand goes missing. She leaves no hints. ACP Shobha Trivedi interrogates the entire family, including Amara (Muskkaan Jaferi), Avinash (Lakshvir Singh Saran), and Suhasini Mulay (Suhasini Mulay’s mother) (Rajshri Deshpande).
Even though she works for a department where men outnumber women, the police officer insists that she does not go to the movies. Shobha, under immense pressure to find the actress quickly and startlingly blunt with her questions, grows increasingly interested in Anamika’s tumultuous life and becomes an empathic interpreter of the choices the incredibly successful woman has had to make to get to the top and stay there.
The detective’s focus shifts from locating the actress’s current whereabouts to determining her past identity. Amidst Shobha’s investigations into Anamika’s family life—her marriage to Manish Khanna (Manav Kaul), her mother, and their children—she also has to deal with the sudden appearance of a young fan, Madhav (Gagan Arora).
While many of her male counterparts have faded away over the years, Anamika, like Shobha, is a woman living in a man’s world who is immensely proud of her 30-year existence. Someone says that a film being produced by her husband and reuniting her with Manish Khanna after a gap of two decades is going to be her comeback, she retorts: “I didn’t realize I was coming back from anywhere.” As a result, we must avoid thinking of The Fame Game as a return of Madhuri Dixit. She, like the character she portrays in the show, never really left us or disappeared completely.
A real-life movie song (Jora Jori chane ke khet mein) or a Bollywood scene (from Kalank, starring Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt) keeps the meta-fiction alive. It’s hard to get distracted from the story of a lady navigating the ups and downs of a long-term acting career by the occasional mention of a genuine, well-known actress.
It is only someone as tremendously successful as Anamika Anand who can, while delivering a pep talk to her only daughter who aspires to follow in her footsteps, afford to warn that fame is not glamour, famous is hazardous. Even while her life has been full of highs and lows, fame and obscurity, there is a tumultuous history hidden beneath the surface.
When she disappears and is subjected to a barrage of media and law enforcement scrutiny, the publicity machine that has kept her scars and wounds hidden begins to fall apart. The Fame Game underlines the intangible element of stardom through the device of Anamika Anand’s physical disappearance amid preparations for the premiere of a new film, the creation of which is the entry point to an important facet of her biography.
She blames her mother for her upbringing, which was marked by conflict, repression, and forced decisions. When Anamika’s kid makes the same accusation, it feels like history is repeating itself. The Fame Game tackles mental health difficulties (ranging from depression and bipolar disease to bad body image), the subject of nepotism and celebrity kids (well, well!), misgivings about one’s sexual orientation, and the ever-relevant theme of loneliness.
One of the most interesting parts of The Fame Game is when it explores the realities of a movie celebrity, including how much a star needs to sacrifice to maintain her family’s well-being while still juggling the demands of her public persona. When asked what fame and success mean to her, Anamika replies, “Main to ghayab hona chahti hoon.”
With Madhuri Dixit in such fettle, and with good support from Manav Kaul, Suhasini Mulay, and Rajshri Deshpande, the authors of the program are at times hard-pressed to keep pace with the controlled power of the performances. The Fame Game, on the other hand, remains effervescent and manages to touch more than a few people thanks to the excellent performances.
Muskkaan Jaferi, Lakshvir Singh Saran, and Gagan Arora, the show’s three most promising newcomers, all excel in a storyline that allows them to fully flesh out their characters. Restraint and coiled energy combine beautifully in Manav Kaul’s performance. Playing a lady who is an outsider to the world The Fame Game is set in, Rajshri Deshpande strikes it rich and provides a hard edge to the narrative. And above all, the incandescence of Madhuri Dixit. Dive right in.